Monday, July 9, 2018

CCF: Keys to the Kingdom

Image courtesy of whwc.org

BE THE CHURCH
Keys to the Kingdom (Acts 10:1-48)
Bro. Popit Aragones


Acts Chapter 10 chronicles a significant milestone in Christian history as it marks the beginning of sharing the gospel to the Gentiles or non-Jewish people. In the previous chapters of Acts, the early church took time to accept that salvation is open and free for all regardless of race and nationality.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
-- Acts 10:1-2
God choosing Cornelius who is of Roman descent, a commander of 100 soldier, exhibits God’s character of impartiality and justice. But although Cornelius is a religious and generous person, Acts 10 highlights that good works does not equate to saving faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. -- Hebrews 11:6
The ancient Romans does not believe in one true God and were polytheistic but Cornelius being a proselyte or a convert earnestly seeks the Lord. And God in His loving character rewards those who sincerely seek Him. For if you seek Him, God is more than willing to pour out His heart to you. Do not for a moment doubt that God will deprive you of His wisdom and presence.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. -- Matthew 7:7
Old testament books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus clearly accounts what food Jewish people can partake that are acceptable to God. But beginning in Acts 10:9, Peter is being prepared by God to reach out to Gentiles and use the analogy of food in His vision to Peter. Peter strictly follows the kosher dietary laws and at the same time believes that Gentiles are unclean and they should not associate with them. But the Lord is slowly opening Peter’s heart for the Gentiles.
And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?”(Thus He declared all foods clean.) -- Mark 1:18-19
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -- Galatians 3:28
Acts chapter 8 accounts Samaritans who are racially mixed society of Jews and pagan ancestry have received the Word of God and it was Peter and John who came and prayed for them. In the same chapter Philip shared the gospel to a Eunuch who is a convert to Judaism. All these accounts gradually open the eyes of Peter and immersed him to the Gentile society. The same way how God prepares us in every situation, challenges, decisions and trials of our life. Believe that He will not give us anything that is beyond what we can handle. He will give us grace just like how He prepared Peter.

There is no partiality with God.

Similar to how Peter accepted Cornelius invitation and went to Caesarea to share the gospel to the Gentiles, we should also learn to remove any prejudice with other people.

Why Peter?
Why did God choose Peter to share the good news to the Gentiles? Why not Paul or Philip who is already in Caesarea during that time? Peter shared the gospel to the Gentiles because this is God’s promise to Him. Peter holds the key to unlocking the door of heaven to the Gentiles.
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” -- Matthew 16:18-19
Peter’s life resonates to us. Peter left the boat to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14)—and promptly took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink (verse 30). Peter took Jesus aside to rebuke Him for speaking of His death (Matthew 16:22)—and was swiftly corrected by the Lord (verse 23). Peter drew his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest (John 18:10)—and was immediately told to sheath his weapon (verse 11). Peter boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did (Matthew 26:33)—and later denied three times that he even knew the Lord (verses 70-74).

Just like Peter, we too lived an imperfect lives. But just like Peter, the Lord is giving us the same keys that can unlock the doors of heaven by sharing the gospel to our family, relatives and friends. God choose us not because of our abilities but because out of His love for us.

Why Cornelius?
Just like Cornelius, we have our own households. When God saved you and me, He is thinking of your family as well, that they too will hear and accept Jesus through your life.
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16:31
First hand faith is essential. Saving faith in Christ is not a group discovery but an individual encounter. Borrowed faith will never be enough, you need to have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. As we become believers saved by the grace of God, we become influencers – faithful bearers of the keys, instruments of the Lord and vessels of God’s message to our family and people around us.


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